I QUIT SUGAR by Shirley Mattingly

diabetes_australia_logo I QUIT SUGAR by Shirley Mattingly

This week is National Diabetes Week, a Diabetes Australia initiative that aims to raise awareness and help educate the community about the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Every day, 280 Australians develop diabetes and at least two million more have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To find out whether you’re at risk, you can take a Type 2 Diabetes Risk evaluation , put together by the Department of Health and Aging. Finding out your risk factors is extremely important as, according to Diabetes Australia, up to 58 percent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented in the high risk (pre-diabetes) population.


Assessing your health, lifestyle and nutrition is all part of helping to prevent diabetes and this week, we talked to Shirley Mattingly, one of our staff members who decided to embark on a health program to quit sugar.


FRUIT AT WORK: Shirley, we understand you joined the 8 week ‘I Quit Sugar’ health program. What were your main reasons for embarking on your mission?

SHIRLEY: Having read what sugar does to your organs and the effect it can have on so many things it was for my health that I initially decided to give it a try. Energy and weight loss I was hoping would then follow!


FAW: In your day-to-day routine, especially at work, what major changes did you make?

S: You need to plan your week a bit more, which can be a challenge and I didn’t always succeed! So the biggest change was writing a meal plan and then a shopping list rather than just wandering around the supermarket making up meals as I went! Also at work you need to remember to actually bring the lunch and snacks otherwise you can be tempted to eat the wrong things!!


FAW: What sort of foods were you originally eating and can you tell us a bit about the foods you replaced them with while you were quitting the sugar?

S: I was not eating unhealthy evening meals, but it was more about the snacks, cakes, biscuits and chocolate fixes that filled the time between meals! So to start with I replaced those foods with nuts, cheese, berries and cream – yes full fat cream!! These things stop the hunger attacks! The advice that full fat dairy is actually good for you was hard to follow after many years of being told otherwise, but butter and mayonnaise are now my new friends!


FAW: What was the hardest part about quitting sugar?

S: There were two hard parts – the first is trying to find meals that my family would also eat so that I did not have to cook two meals each evening and the second was the planning of meals. The actual giving up sugar was easier for me once I had all the replacement foods in place!


FAW: Can you tell us a bit about your 8 week journey and how you felt both health-wise and mentally along the way?

S: The first couple of weeks were challenging as your body basically has to detox from the sugars, so you can get some headaches, my skin had a few breakouts and I also felt a bit tired. However by following the “I Quit Sugar” program there are lots of foods and tips to help you through this and especially lots of good foods that will help repair your body (like beetroot which is so easy to cook – who knew!!) After the first two weeks though, everything settled for me, and I felt great! It is a very positive experience for me to achieve quitting sugar and I never felt hungry or deprived of food.


FAW: How many weeks have you been off the sugar now, and how are you feeling?

S: I have been off the sugar for three months now and my energy levels are much improved. My skin is also looking better. The weight loss has not been as much as I had hoped yet, but I am confident that as my energy levels rise – and I can start to do more exercise – this will follow.


FAW: If someone like me (a chocolate addict) was thinking about quitting sugar, what piece of advice can you share?

S: You need to find some snacks that satisfy instead of a chocolate hit. Also start looking at the info on packets of food – the important part is the sugar per 100g. It shocked me when I saw that supposedly healthy food like low fat yoghurt has huge amounts of sugar compared to the full fat version. You can make easy swaps of foods that you like without giving up everything. Once you are through the detox of the sugars there are also many delicious recipes for sweet foods which should replace the chocolate addiction. If you can just hold out for a couple of weeks then you actually find that you do not want to eat that chocolate bar!

FAW: Can you recommend any good websites or reading for those thinking about following in your footsteps?

i-quit-sugar-logo I QUIT SUGAR by Shirley MattinglyS: Definitely www.iquitsugar.com – there is lots of information on this site. Also the book that got me started – Sweet Poison by David Gillespie – www.davidgillespie.org


FAW: Finally, for everyone at work out there, what are your top tips for making sure you don’t lapse into bad habits at your desk?

S: Remember to bring your lunch and snacks with you! On the I Quit Sugar program, you make enough of each evening meal to have leftovers for lunch the next day and this was so much easier than trying to think of something healthy to make at 6am in the morning. Have a bag of nuts in your desk drawer ready for that morning coffee fix – I found that just four or five Brazil nuts was plenty. And don’t be hard on yourself if you do have to join in the office birthday cake – as soon as that sugar touches your tongue and it starts to tingle you will know why you need to keep quitting!